America's Original GI Town
Park Forest, Illinois
At the close of World War II, Americans became increasingly concerned about the problem of housing for returning veterans, relocated defense workers, and their families. Designs such as the garden city that dated from the turn of the twentieth century or earlier were prominent once again, as planners saw a renewed need for ready-made communities. One such community—among the first and, perhaps, most representative—was Park Forest, Illinois, a privately built and publicly managed town twenty-six miles south of Chicago.
In this book, Gregory Randall presents the history of the planning, design, construction, and growth of Park Forest. He shows how planners—who dubbed the new community a "GI town"—drew on lessons learned from English garden cities and New Deal greenbelt towns to cope with America's emerging peacetime housing crisis. He also shows how this new town changed community planning throughout the United States, including its effects on community development up to the present.
About the Author
Gregory C. Randall is a professional landscape architect and planner at Randall Planning and Design.
Randall's account of Park Forest effectively challenges the conventional distinction between 1930s idealism and the postwar materialism that shapes so many accounts of post-1945 America.
The book's strength is Randall's discussion of Park Forest within the history of new community-planning initiatives.
This book provides a readable narrative of Park Forest's development, with photos and anecdotes that capture the enthusiasm of its early residents.
Gregory C. Randall makes a valuable contribution with his book, the first full-length history of the [Park Forest] community... [it] will be a boon to scholars interested in exploring some of the many interesting questions surrounding Park Forest and the postwar suburban phenomenon.
This is a sound history, an engaging, crisp narrative.
Greg Randall has written an engaging and instructive book. What I especially like about Randall's work is that it provides the reader with a holistic appreciation of a distinctive community. That he does so as an insider makes his narration all the more compelling.
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